Sean Penn dons combat gear and helmet as he arrives in Ukraine

Sean Penn dons combat gear and helmet as he arrives in Ukraine to film documentary about Russian aggression in the region

  • Hollywood actor, 61, was pictured in military gear as he visited Donetsk area
  • Ukraine has been fighting a years-long proxy-war against pro-Moscow rebels
  • Penn understood to be filming documentary about how area has been impacted
  • He was followed by a camera and microphones as he made the visit on Thursday

Sean Penn has been pictured donning combat gear and a helmet as he arrived in Ukraine to film a documentary about Russian aggression in the region.

The Hollywood actor and producer, 61, met with Ukrainian military service personnel as he visited positions near the frontline with Russian-backed separatists in the Donetsk area.

Ukraine has been fighting a years-long proxy-war against Russia, which supports separatist rebels in the country’s eastern regions. 

It is understood Penn is shoot a documentary about how the Donbas region has been impacted by battles with pro-Moscow rebels.

He was followed by a camera crew and surrounded by military protection as he made the visit on Thursday.

Actor and director Sean Penn visits positions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces near the frontline with Russian-backed separatists in Donetsk region

The Hollywood actor and director donned a helmet and combat gear as he spoke with militaru personnel in the region

Penn was flanked by security and military service personnel as he walked along a settlement close to the frontline

The actor spoke to servicemen and servicewomen during his visit on Thursday

The proxy-war stems from the 2014 rebellion which ousted pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych and led to Russian annexing Crimea in the aftermath.

The conflict has so-far claimed some 13,000 lives.

Crimea juts into the Black Sea and contains an important Russian naval port with easy access to the Mediterranean.

A post on the Joint Forces Operation Headquarters Facebook page on Thursday said Penn was visiting ‘to see with his own eyes the consequences of Russian aggression’.

The post added that the idea of the documentary was to ‘tell the general public about the events that are currently happening in our country’.

The actor made the visit to the settlement of Priazov, which has been at the forefront of the ongoing conflict.

Penn rose to fame as a leading actor with the drama Dead Man Walking in 1995, before winning two Academy Awards for his roles in Mystic River in 2003, followed by Milk in 2008. 

His arrival in the region came as Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the West of ‘escalating’ tensions around Ukraine by building up forces on his border, even as thousands of Russian troops, tanks and artillery pieces sit close by.

Penn is understood to be filming a documentary about how the Donbas region has been impacted by battles with pro-Moscow rebels

He was followed by cameras and microphones as he walked around the area on Thursday

The Russian president said Europe and the US had carried out ship drills in the Black Sea and flown bombers close to the frontier – crossing ‘red lines’ and showing that Russia is not being taken seriously.

As he spoke, the Russian military test-fired an ‘unstoppable’ hypersonic Zircon missile at a target in the White Sea – saying it scored a direct hit.

He said: ‘Western partners are escalating the situation by supplying Kiev with lethal modern weapons.’ 

The comments were made after Ukraine’s defence minister revealed he has asked Brussels and Washington for more military tech.

Putin said Moscow has been ‘constantly raising concerns about this’ but ‘all our warnings and talk about red lines are treated superficially’.

Putin has been voicing concern about US naval exercises in the Black Sea for days, telling his French counterpart this week that they were ‘provocative’ and leading to ‘increasing tensions’ between Moscow and NATO.

He has also slammed Ukraine for using a Turkish-made drone against pro-Moscow rebels.

Meanwhile, Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, said he is in the process of agreeing a ‘Russian containment package’ with allies in Washington and Brussels including ‘increased sanctions’ as well as ‘supplies of additional weapons’.

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